Complete Package

FENDI and Mabeo present a collection celebrating Botswana artisans for Design Miami

Foro Chair; Chichira Cabinet; efo Stool by Mabeo Studio

Undulating wood and interlocking clay – this is what happens when Botswana meets Rome. FENDI has collaborated with Mabeo – the furniture, accessories and design studio founded by Peter Mabeo in 1997 that prizes natural materials and purity in form – for this year’s Design Miami, resulting in an ingenious, joyful collection. Titled ‘Kompa’ (originating from the Botswana brand’s most senior (in age) craftsperson, meaning something that is complete), the ten pieces of furniture showcase interrelating techniques unique to the African country, and collaboration at its most fluid.

Travelling the breadth of the landlocked region, the partnership engaged artisans to produce work both striking in its simplicity, and expansive in its multi-functionality. The Loma Stool, for example, is three objects in one that can be used as either two storage containers, two stools, or when joined, as a side table. Displayed in two material iterations, ancient pottery methods join with woodworking, while the inside is painted by artists local to the vast Kalahari Desert.

Loma Stool by Mabeo Studio

Pieces that more consciously reference the legendary Italian house include the modular efo Stool, which channels FENDI’s double F motif and combines clay with panga panga wood, and the charming geometric Maduo Chair, which directly translates Delfina Delettrez Fendi’s O’Lock jewellery. The more abstract Gabi-Gabi sculpture meanwhile, the largest piece in the collection that is formed from hand-beaten galvanished metal sheets, beautifully compliments the organic, cloud-like Chichira Cabinet, which is seamlessly basket woven.

Gabi-Gabi sculpture; Foro Chair; Loma Stool; Maduo Chair by Mabeo Studio

Another standout, of course, is Mabeo’s reimagining of FENDI’s infamous Peekaboo handbag, interpreted through a desert craft lens – where plant-based materials are rare – and finished using traditional tanning, treating and stitching methods, additional components cast in metal and hand carved in wood.

Peter Mabeo at FENDI Design Miami 2021. Shiya Seat; Loma Stool by Mabeo Studio

Released in parallel to the collection is a limited-edition publication that visually documents the considerable effort and thought that went into the collaboration, from road trips to works in progress to schematic drawings of each piece. An illuminating accompaniment to a collection that is truly the complete package.

Column Inches

FENDI team up with studio Kueng Caputo to create a colourful collection of design pieces inspired by its iconic headquarters 

The Colosseo Quadrato – or Square Colosseum – is one of the most iconic 20th century additions to the Roman landscape, its grand arched white colonnades looming large. This signature piece of architecture built by Giovanni Guerrini, Ernesto Bruno Lapadula and Mario Romano has acted as FENDI’s Italian headquarters since 2015 and most recently, is the point of inspiration in a collaboration with Zurich based design studio Kueng Caputo (Lovis Caputo and Sarah Kueng).

The studio’s Roman Molds collection – ten design pieces ranging from stools to tête-à-tête benches, palm trees to room dividers – are surreal combinations of material, craft and colour. Aping a fur technique developed in the 1950’s by FENDI, in which grosgrain and velvet ribbons were combined with fur, it has married the brand’s instantly recognisable Selleria leather with deeply saturated terracotta brick. The effect is one of suppleness and stiffness, as curved, carved bricks undulate and warp, yellow, pink and orange saddle leather harmonising with the dense, ceramic glazed structures.

The multiple variations of furniture and seating are intended to work as modular building blocks that, together, have the potential to create different social and working spaces within the Palazzo della Civiltà Italiana. Discussing the project, FENDI notes that the project is a “study of opposites and the achievement of harmony through the application of imaginative design with skill and craft.” These polar tensions are playful, as traditional classical forms are reimagined following an extensive dig into FENDI’s archives to better understand the house’s history of innovation. 

Roman Molds is presented at Design Miami 2019